Your insurance policy will remain in effect as though you got into an accident in your home state. For instance, if you were injured in Georgia but purchased car insurance in Florida, you would file an insurance claim without regard to where you are.
This can get tricky, though––especially when you take negligence laws into consideration. While this does not stop you from filing a claim, it could add another layer of complications to the financial recovery process.
If You Move to Another State, Tell Your Insurer
The dark side of the personal injury world is that insurance companies love to deny claims. You’d be surprises at the lengths insurance companies will go to avoid paying out large settlements.
If you move to another state, you MUST tell your insurer that you moved. While this could affect your monthly rates, if you get into a crash outside of your original home state, they could use this information to deny your claim.
What’s worse, if the insurer denies your claim because you didn’t tell them that you moved, the other driver in your accident could sue you. here, your insurer wouldn’t pay for their damages. Instead, you might be compelled to pay them money out of your own pocket.
Explaining Modified Comparative Negligence Laws and Your Situation
You might have heard that Florida is a no-fault state, as explained by Florida Statutes § 627.7407. This means that when you get into a crash, you file a claim with your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy. If you’re seriously hurt or your damages go beyond your policy limits, then you can file a claim with the other party’s carrier.
However, this can get complicated if you enter a “tort” state. Going back to the previous example, Georgia operates under a comparative negligence system, as explained by O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33. This means that if you get into an accident in this state, you would file a claim with the other party’s insurer to recover damages.
If you partially caused the accident, you could get less money
In addition to being a no-fault state, Florida is also one of few states that operates on a pure comparative negligence rule. This means that even if you were 99 percent responsible for the accident, you would not be barred from pursuing damages.
However, your settlement would be reduced by 99 percent––your role in the collision. So, if your damages totaled $100,000, in this case, you could only recover $1,000.
Other states do not have this rule. For instance, if your crash took place in Georgia and you were 99 percent at fault, you would be ineligible to seek compensation.
Different States Have Different Reporting Mandates
If you get into a minor accident that only results in a few dings and scratches, you don’t need to file a police report (although it can be a good idea). However, some states have different parameters for notifying law enforcement of a collision.
For instance, in Georgia, you are required to file a collision report:
· If anyone is injured
· If anyone is killed
· If damage costs more than $500
Other states have different instructions. For instance, you only have to file a police report in Texas if anyone is killed, injured, or property damage exceeded $1,000. Failure to report a serious accident not only complicates the recovery process, but you could also face a citation for your failure to report.
Each State Has a Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits
If you got into a car accident in Florida, there’s really no rush to file a lawsuit because you have four years from the date of your collision to do so. However, this completely changes if you got into an accident in Louisiana. Per CC Art. 3492, you would have only a year to file your case in court.
If you are considering litigation, be sure to look up the statute of limitations in the state where you were hurt. If you fail to file your case within the right timeline, you could be ineligible to file a lawsuit.
Things to Keep in Mind if You Get into a Crash in Another State
When you get into an accident, you should always prioritize your health above all else. While getting medical help in a different state can be scary, some health conditions can take days to present themselves. You could walk away from the scene of the crash seemingly unharmed only to wake up the next morning in terrible pain.
With that being said, after you have sought medical attention, here are some things that you can do to protect your rights after getting into an out-of-state crash:
Take Pictures of Your Injuries
If you suffered external injuries, like cuts, bruises, and scratches, you should take pictures of them while you recover. If you need to recoup damages through a personal injury claim later on, these pictures could support your allegations.
Keep a Low Profile on Social Media
After crashing your car, you might want to share details about the event online. But remember earlier when we said that insurance companies hate paying out claims?
They might go on your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to look for information to deny your case. Even if you share posts that you did not originally author, the implications could be used to question various aspects of your injuries.
Work with a Lawyer
Getting hurt in another state can quickly become confusing. For instance, you may not know how the laws in that state work. You might be getting different, conflicting information in all directions.
Working with a lawyer can take the burden of a claim off your shoulders. They can talk to the insurer, negotiate a settlement, and apply state-relevant laws to your case. Additionally, many car accidents lawyers work for a contingency fee, meaning they get paid out of your final settlement, rather than your own finances.
If you got into an accident in another state, take a deep breath: everything will be ok. As long as you have auto insurance, document your losses, and take care of your health, you’ll be back behind the wheel in no time.